Like many, Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of my favorite times of the year. I enjoy the food, family and festivities that seem to rule the season. I also enjoy taking time to reflect on the importance of the season, Christ and the hope that we have in Him.
Maybe because I love connecting with the nations that God is bringing to our doorstep, I’m also challenged by the fact that we have a unique opportunity to share this hope with all people studying on campuses across our state. I’d like to challenge you with five ideas on how you may connect with international students this holiday season.
- Pray – Pray for God to reveal Himself to those in your community. May we be found faithful in praying for Him to work in the lives of the many international students studying on campuses in our area. Pray that He would guide us to connect with an international student and have an opportunity to share our hope in Christ. Pray for churches, Baptist Campus Ministries and others to be intentional in connecting with these students as most campuses become empty and lonely as students are home over the holidays.
- Invite – Invite international students to be a part of your family celebrations. Consider adding an extra plate to your table and having an international student join your family this Thanksgiving or Christmas. More than half of the international students who study in the U.S. will not be invited into an American home. That deeply saddens me, and I want to do something about that. Will you join me?
I’d also encourage you to invite international students to special Christmas events at your church. Christmas musicals and candlelight services are special times for us. Imagine how enjoyable they will be with international friends who have never experienced such an event. This provides a great opportunity for you to share the Christmas story with them one on one afterwards.
- Educate – I’ve found that when international students are a part of our ‘cultural events’ they seek to absorb all that they can. This is a great way for us to be very specific and intentional in sharing our faith. Consider a tool like Holiday Living: Using Year-Round Holidays to Build Faith and Family (http://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Living-Year-Round-Holidays-Family/dp/1596693592) to gather activities and ideas to share with your international friends that educates them on our core beliefs.
- Follow Up – I’ve already mentioned the loneliness of campus. We must remember that campus can be lonely when school is back in session. What other ways can we be intentional in engaging our international friends? Other holidays? Birthdays? Random days that we make special? Yes! Join me in being intentional in following up with these students as many are only around for a short while.
Who knows how God may use your step of faith to connect with one international to reach the nations! Pray with me for God to use this holiday season in a powerful across our state and the world as we engage with the nations He has brought to our doorstep!